Hamas is Approaching Saudi Arabia 

The Hamas movement is making strides towards establishing closer ties with Saudi Arabia, despite being designated as a terrorist organization within the country. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is laying the groundwork for a reconciliation agreement between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas, with the aim of achieving a political breakthrough in resolving the Palestinian issue.

Insider sources from Hamas indicate that the movement’s leadership is gradually re-engaging with Saudi Arabia through discreet channels 


Direct contacts are being established between the Hamas leadership, Saudi intelligence, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.


 It is important to note that Hamas is considered a terrorist organization in Saudi Arabia and is affiliated with Iran in the Middle East. 


Around 70 Hamas members, who were convicted of money laundering and smuggling funds for Hamasmilitary wing in the Gaza Strip, are currently incarcerated in Saudi prisons. 


During the Feast of the Sacrifice (Id al-Adha), a high-ranking Hamas delegation led by Ismail Haniyeh visited Mecca in Saudi Arabia. While the visit was publicly portrayed as a religious pilgrimage (Hajj), behind the scenes, the delegation members held meetings with senior Saudi officials to discuss regional developments. 

This marks the second visit by Hamas leadership to Saudi Arabia in recent years. Approximately two months ago, Ismail Haniyeh led another Hamas delegation to Mecca for a so-called religious visit, which was deemed as a gesture of goodwill. 


According to Hamas sources, the Saudi royal house has assured the Hamas leadership that they will gradually establish a closer relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, without undermining the position of the PA and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas. 


Following their return, the members of the Hamas delegation urged the Saudi royal house to release dozens of movement activists currently detained on charges of smuggling money to Hamasmilitary wing in Gaza. 


A breakthrough is anticipated in the coming weeks. 


In October 2022, Saudi Arabia released Dr. Muhammad Al-Khoudari, an 81-year-old Hamas figure who previously headed the Hamas branch in Saudi Arabia. Al-Khoudari had been sentenced to 15 years in prison but served only three years. Prior to Al-Khoudari’s release, Saudi Arabia also freed a few more Hamas operatives. 


Both the Houthi rebels in Yemen and Qatar are involved in negotiations to secure the release of Hamas members from Saudi prisons, putting pressure on the Saudi royal house. 


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has rekindled his interest in the Palestinian issue, particularly in light of his engagement with the Biden administration in pursuing a normalization agreement with Israel. 


Saudi Arabia insists that a significant breakthrough in solving the Palestinian problem is a prerequisite for such an agreement


To achieve this, a unified political stance between the PA and Hamas must be reached 

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is exploring the possibility of mediating between Fatah and Hamas, in coordination with Egypt, the main mediator, to foster reconciliation and national unity.


In the near future, Saudi Arabia may renew financial aid to the PA to bolster its dire financial situation 

The PA is currently grappling with a severe financial crisis and is contemplating declaring bankruptcy. 

 Saudi support would enable the Saudi crown prince to exert greater influence over the PA’s political positions. 

Undoubtedly, the renewed rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Hamas stems from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s strategic decision to draw closer to Iran and Syria. 

 As part of Saudi Arabia’s engagement with theaxis of resistanceled by Iran, it is also warming its relations with the Hamas movement. 


Recent developments, such as the waning influence of the United States in the Middle East, its swift withdrawal from Afghanistan, and its lack of a firm policy towards Iran, have raised concerns within the Saudi leadership. 

 These factors, coupled with President Biden’s cool stance toward Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom he accuses of being involved in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, have prompted Saudi Arabia to reassess its position. 


Saudi Arabia has involved China in mediating with Iran and has successfully brokered an agreement to restore ties between the two countries. 

 Additionally, Saudi Arabia has approached Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria, seeking to improve relations and reintegrate Syria into the Arab League. 


Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s courting of the opposition axis led by Iran has raised concerns for both Israel and the United States, who were taken aback by the Saudi-Iranian agreement. 


Israeli senior security officials claim that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has concluded that he can no longer rely on the Biden administration to protect the Saudi regime from Iran.


 Consequently, he has chosen to align with the second camp in order to secure his regime in the coming years. 

The question remains: How will Saudi Arabia’s rapprochement with Iran and Hamas affect its relations with Israel 


Prominent figures in Jerusalem believe that this could potentially hinder the normalization process between Saudi Arabia and Israel, as Saudi Arabia may face significant pressure from the Iran-led resistance axis to distance itself from Israel. 

Cautiously, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is not rushing into a full-fledged alliance with Iran and the Hamas movement. He is aware that this rapprochement could unravel swiftly. 


Last week, US Secretary of State Tony Blinken warned Israel that the violent events in the West Bank are impeding progress towards normalization with Saudi Arabia 

As long as terrorism and violence persist, Saudi Arabia is likely to adopt a more rigid stance and focus on reconciling Fatah and Hamas. 

Yoni Ben Menachem Senior Middle East Analyst

About Yoni Ben Menachem

Yoni Ben Menachem is a Middle East senior analyst ,a journalist and
the former CEO of the Israel Broadcasting Authority(IBA). He has
decades of experience in written and video journalism. Ben
Menachem’s path in the media world began as a producer for
Japanese television in the Middle East. After that, he held many key
positions in the media The Israeli: CEO of the Israel Broadcasting
Authority, director of “Kol Israel” Radio, reporter on West Bank and
Gaza Strip affairs, political reporter and commentator, commentator
on Middle East affairs and editor-in-chief and presenter of the
program “Middle East Magazine”. 

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